Sunday, February 5, 2023

‘Masonic philatelists will meet again’

The first post-pandemic meeting of the George Washington Masonic Stamp Club is scheduled for three weeks from today at the Washington Masonic Memorial in Virginia.

That’s Sunday, February 26. Meeting at 2 p.m., but the brethren gather to socialize at 1:30. If there be anyone in waiting to receive the Master of Philately Degree, it will be conferred. (Contact Secretary John Allen here if you expect to receive the degree.) By 4:30, everyone will head to Theismann’s Restaurant and Bar, near the train station, for a no-host meal.

I wonder if changing up the day’s agenda might spark things for the club. You’d think the proximity to Washington might inspire them to host speakers from the Postal Service or the Postal Museum or a historian or something.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

‘Knapp-Hall tarot returns!’


It is time for a follow-up to last October’s post about the purported return of the Knapp-Hall tarot deck from the Philosophical Research Society. The PRS now advises there is a delay in shipping, but the decks are available. This is a limited run of 1,500 in a design consistent with the original 1929 printing. Price: $100. From the publicity:


The Revised New Art Tarot aka the “Knapp-Hall Tarot” was originally published in 1929, a collaboration between illustrator & artist John Augustus Knapp (1853-1938) and writer, sage & teacher Manly P. Hall (1901-1990). It was released the year after Hall’s monumental encyclopedia of esoteric traditions and symbols, The Secret Teachings of All Ages, illustrated by Knapp, and over the years this exceedingly rare and beautiful Tarot has come to be known as the Knapp-Hall deck–with original examples selling for thousands of dollars, when they can be found.

It initially was issued with 78 cards, a two-piece, plum fabric-covered box, and a 48-page booklet containing “An Essay on the Book of Thoth” written by Hall. The Knapp-Hall Tarot Deck has been re-printed several times over the years but always with different dimensions and new designs for the reverse of the cards. For this Limited Edition of 1,500, we have replicated the graphics, texture, feel and dimensions of the original 1929 Revised New Art Tarot as closely as possible given modern printing methods. Card images were taken from scans of an original 1929 deck with only minimal corrections for wear and tear. The sepia tone of the card stock, due to aging, has been preserved to reflect what a 1929 deck would look like today.

Please note that this beautiful Tarot is smaller and more delicate than most modern decks, so treat it with care in handling. Any imperfections in the cards (for example, the Knight/Warrior of Pentacles has a smaller border than the other cards) are present in the original 1929 deck scanned for this edition.

Friday, February 3, 2023

‘Skeletons in the Lodge Hall’

Click to enlarge.

If you think I know where Freemasonry’s skeletons are buried, wait until you hear from Heather! The perfect choice for the Sankey Lecture, Heather Calloway is the Executive Director of Indiana University’s Center for Fraternal Collections and Research.

She’s got a million stories. Attend the lecture in person or online. Don’t cost nothin’.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

‘New short film from UGLE’


It strikes me as unusual when a Masonic grand lodge displays continuity in thought, word, and deed, but in this instance it’s the United Grand Lodge of England, which employs paid professionals who support the fraternity leadership, so there is that asterisk. I refer to “Inventing the Future,” the current messaging heralding this year’s commemoration of the 300th anniversary of Anderson’s Constitutions.

I have relayed the news of Quatuor Coronati 2076’s events in celebration of the tercentenary. (Forget about the Virginia conference. Mark said it is not to be.) An exhibition in the Museum of Freemasonry is open through the end of the year. I told you about the historical reproduction of the text from Lewis Masonic. Ric Berman’s book, Inventing the Future, is out. Yesterday was a rare Especial Meeting of the Grand Lodge, attended by 1600 visiting brethren, in London. And I learned last night of a newly released short video and a podcast upcoming, both devoted to “Inventing the Future.”

The Surrey 1837 Club
Yesterday inside Freemasons’ Hall, London.

I am beginning to discern a pattern.

This short film, produced by Matthew Mitchell, is a treat. This facet of “Inventing the Future” is a 29-minute speculation, leavened with humorous dialogue, into how the Constitutions were conceived and written, plus how the Duke of Montagu came to be the first noble Grand Master of the flourishing Grand Lodge of England. To wit:

The new podcast is still to come, and I certainly will link to it when it debuts, but it will be apart from the also new Craftcast, the UGLE’s official podcast.


Sunday, January 29, 2023

‘Art exhibit highlights PHA Masons’

MMCA photo

An art exhibition in Wisconsin highlights the presence of Prince Hall Freemasons there.

“Dark Matter” by Faisal Abdu’Allah, features larger than life-size portraits, on tapestries, of local Masons in a collection named “Prince Hall” that is on display at Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

“I began to understand and see the presence of Prince Hall in just Madison alone, and the level of purpose and how they are changing the community through various acts of generosity,” Abdu’Allah told Wisconsin State Journal for a story published last Monday. “I would hope people see past the form of representations of what we see—these men with aprons and gloves and hats, and what we assume the Masons to be—and see it more as a chapter in excellence and generosity.”

The portraits show six brethren of Capitol City Lodge 2 attired in their Craft Masonry regalia in images that began as photographs which then were printed on the fabric.

A lecture on the history of PHA Freemasonry in Wisconsin was presented by W. Bro. Alan Chancellor at the museum on January 19.

“Dark Matter” is scheduled to close on April 2.

Friday, January 27, 2023

‘Anniversary edition of Anderson’s Constitutions’

Lewis Masonic

Lewis Masonic has revealed its new edition of The Constitutions of the Free-Masons, published to commemorate the tricentennial anniversary of its first printing in London. Better known as Anderson’s Constitutions, it is the book of jurisprudence, history, and other guidance commissioned by the first Grand Lodge of England, its authorship attributed to Rev. James Anderson, although it is thought that senior Grand Lodge officers had weighty editorial input.

Lewis Masonic
Left: front cover of the new edition.
Right: the original. 

It looks like a beautiful reproduction. On social media, Lewis Masonic says:

After careful examination of the original copies held in the archives of the Museum of Freemasonry in London, the cover border and central design have been painstakingly reproduced. Inside the contents are clear and set out in a way that is faithful to the original in terms of typeface, spelling, and format. The various decorations have also been carefully restored whilst keeping their character. Each copy bought directly supports the work done by the Museum of Freemasonry in London.

Read more about it here.

Of course the original dates to 1723, and this year there will be various celebrations of its publication. From Quatuor Coronati Lodge 2076 to New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education 1786—and, I’m sure, other venues—discussions and toasts in honor of this seminal text shall be heard. The United Grand Lodge of England will hold an Especial Meeting to celebrate the text’s tercentenary next Tuesday.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

‘Jersey research lodge to host Shawn Eyer at Washington Memorial’


New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education 1786 sent a delegation to Princeton Lodge 38 Monday night to demonstrate to the brethren there what a research lodge is and does, and our next meeting as a lodge will be an emergent—out of state!

We have rented a lodge room at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Virginia for a meeting on Sunday, February 19 at 4:30 p.m. as part of the Memorial’s cornerstone centennial and Washington’s Birthday celebrations. Our speaker will be Bro. Shawn Eyer, the Memorial’s Director of Education and the editor of The Philalethes magazine.

Shawn Eyer by Travis Simpkins
He will discuss “Holy Symbols, Infinite Wisdom: Freemasonry’s Mystical Ground Plan in Prestonian Thought.”

Shawn says:

William Preston (1742-1818) and his brethren devoted decades to the cultivation of the Masonic ceremonies and catechisms which underlie the common degree workings as they are now generally performed in English-speaking lodges. Despite the ubiquity of Preston’s work, many know little of Preston himself, nor of the specific characteristics of his style of Freemasonry. The Prestonian concept of Freemasonry will be explored in this talk, providing a new way to appreciate the common Preston-Webb lectures.

If you are a Master Mason in good standing in the area, please come visit and profit from this revealing presentation. (Bring Masonic identification and your apron, and be prepared to work your way inside a tyled Masonic communication.)

“LORE” will continue in the celebrations on Monday the 20th by marching as a unit in the City of Alexandria’s 2023 George Washington Birthday Parade, followed by the Memorial’s cornerstone ceremony re-enactment for its hundredth anniversary. Please feel free to march with us in the parade, and definitely don’t miss the cornerstone ceremony at the Memorial.

Other than that, New Jersey LORE will meet again on our regular schedule on Saturday, March 11 in our new meeting space at Freemasons Hall in North Brunswick, home of Union Lodge 19. Hope to see you at all the above.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

‘Bonhams auctions antique Masonic punchbowl’


Bonhams, the London-based auction house founded in 1793, placed under the gavel yesterday one of those beautiful Chinese-made punchbowls you see in many Masonic museums.

Dating to the Qianlong period (c. 1780), the porcelain piece sold for $12,750 at the dealer’s New York location on Madison Avenue.


It depicts the checkered pavement, pillars, G, sun & moon and Pleiades, and the S&C of the Second Degree. And you’ll see a lewis, and a few things that I thought didn’t exist in our degrees until the Thomas Smith Webb era. My brain is going soft. I’ll have to hit the books and look into it.


Anyway, my bid of $357, plus a Shriner belt buckle, didn’t prevail.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

‘T.S. Webb Chapter to meet!’

UPDATE 2: There is a new website here.

UPDATE: It’s going to be a true reorganization meeting!

Thomas Smith Webb Chapter of Research 1798 will meet in March! That hasn’t happened in quite some time, as I understand it.

The most recent Convocation I attended was in 2015, but I doubt that was the most recent one. The chapter’s meetings are supposed to be held, at least, during the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of New York’s annual festivities. This year, the weekend affair will be hosted in Binghamton, March 9-11.

The research chapter’s meeting is scheduled for Thursday the ninth, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. I don’t have a meeting agenda or even an idea of who’s in charge. Like I said, it’s been a long time.

And I’m sorry to say I cannot attend any of the events, but don’t let that stop you. Click here to register.

Keeping research lodges afloat is difficult, and maintaining research chapters, where subject matter is even more compartmentalized, is extremely challenging. There are several such chapters around the country (California, Massachusetts, Ohio, Virginia, maybe more), but their activities are sporadic, to say the least.

Masonic scholarship never has been popular in the fraternity. We eggheads who manage to keep these groups open are no more than one in a thousand, it seems to me. I look forward to hearing of Thomas Smith Webb Chapter’s progress, and I wish the companions success.

And don’t forget to keep me on the membership roll.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

‘Have dinner with the Masonic Society’

I’ve been remiss in touting the Masonic Society’s annual dinner next month during Masonic Week. That’ll be Friday, February 10 at 7 p.m. in the Hyatt Regency Crystal City. The dining fee costs $60 and when registering, you’ll see a choice of entrées.

Robert Dupel
The keynote speaker will be Robert Dupel, who is both Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Quebec and the Grand Master of Canada’s Allied Masonic Degrees. He will present “It’s About Me,” which, I’ll guess, may be rich in Masonic motivation.

Sorry to say I won’t see you there. It’s our fourteenth event at Masonic Week (because we missed 2021 when the pandemic pre-empted Masonic Week) and I’ve attended all but one, but I don’t see myself joining in Masonic Week any further. My first was in 2002, and I guess I simply have had enough.

That’s the Masonic Society’s current events, but there is a lot more news that was announced recently by President Oscar Alleyne.

New Treasurer and Secretary

The Society has a new Secretary. The mighty Nathan Brindle has retired after serving since our launch in 2008. Nathan was both Treasurer and Secretary, and I can tell you that, having been a Board member and an officer (2008-22) myself, he had a lot of work! Administering all the membership needs, from enrolling new members to creating the patents to invoicing for dues; handling the finances, from depositing dues to getting the tax returns filed; webmaster, including the TMS store; generating the reports the Board needs to see; and a lot more. And that’s on top of his myriad other stations and places in the fraternity. And, oh yeah, his family and career. We were lucky to have you, Nathan, and I salute you, sir! Former President Jim Dillman has taken over the Treasurer’s desk. That’s good luck for us too.

The new Secretary is Shamus Driver. I don’t know Shamus, but if the Board elected him, then he’s right for the job. Plus, he’s in Indiana, which is important, as that has been our headquarters where all the hospitality suite libations are stored.

New Vice Presidents

I regret to see the departure from the First Vice Presidency of Greg Knott who resigned recently. We’ve lost Vice Presidents before. The recently deceased Rex Hutchens was one of our inaugural veeps, but he had to step aside because the TMS workload was more demanding that he expected, and he already had tons to do elsewhere in Freemasonry of course. (The Masonic Society is not a place to just receive a title and loaf around. There’s a lot of work to do.) And we lost another VP several years later. Literally. At the mall.

I was looking forward to seeing Greg become President next year, knowing he possesses the talent and temperament to steer our quirky and diverse team. Maybe he could return some day. So, Mark Robbins is elevated from Second Vice President to First; and Mason Russell moves from our Board of Directors to the Second Vice Presidency. Congratulations!

The Journal is coming

You wonder why you haven’t received a Winter issue of The Journal of the Masonic Society. It is because a double issue of Freemasonry’s pre-eminent periodical is in production and will reach you soon. Having adhered to the tradition of our Past Presidents not meddling in the decision making, I do not know the particulars of that, but as the Masonic Society nears its fifteenth anniversary (May 1), things are as lively as ever.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

‘Challenge coins to benefit PTSD research are back’

“A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards.”

President Theodore Roosevelt
July 4, 1903

In very high demand, with supply recently exhausted, our Grand Master’s challenge coin is back!

With the face of Bro. Theodore Roosevelt on the obverse and the Grand Lodge seal on the reverse, the token is a fundraiser for The Battle Within Foundation, the group that supports research into PTSD to help military veterans. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has afflicted thousands of warriors with injuries that cannot be seen. In too many instances, the pain results in suicide.

TR, of Matinecock Lodge 806 in Oyster Bay, is Grand Master Richard Kessler’s favorite U.S. President, I’m told, ergo his smiling face scrutinizing squint on the coin. Senior Grand Deacon Larry Kania is charged with distributing the challenge coins (please pray for him), and he can be reached here. He has 500 to share at $20 each.

What is the Masonic link to The Battle Within Foundation? It is our Grand Master’s sponsored charity, and it was initiated by the brethren of Harmonie Lodge 699 after the suicide of a Brother in 2017. Read more here and here.

‘Psycho-libel to be topic at library discussion’


Speaking of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania (see post below), the Masonic Library and Museum in Philadelphia will host a speaker next Saturday to discuss what may be the granddaddy of conspiracy theories.

Bro. John Minott, of Lodge No. 2, will present “Freemasons and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” This lecture, beginning at 3:30, may be attended both in person and via Zoom. Click here to make arrangements. From the publicity:

The Protocols, first published in 1905* and still going strong today, purport to describe a fraudulent Jewish plot for world domination, with the Freemasons as their unwitting stooges. This talk will delve into the history of this anti-Semitic publication, and how Freemasons came to be featured in it.

John Minott
A graduate of Stanford University, John Minott, a member of Lodge No. 2 in Philadelphia, has been a tour guide of the Masonic Temple for twenty-seven years.

Minott’s name may be familiar to you, as he is a frequent speaker on subjects concerning Masonic history and various bizarre fears of Freemasonry.

* Paul Calderwood’s paper, “As We Were: Freemasonry and the Press,” in the new AQC (135), puts the date at 1903.

Friday, January 13, 2023

‘Bizzack and Dunning at Pennsylvania Academy…in Philly!’

The next session of Pennsylvania Academy of Masonic Knowledge will be hosted in the Masonic Temple in Philadelphia, rather than the usual venue on the Elizabethtown campus. That is part of the sesquicentennial celebration of the headquarters of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.

The speakers on Saturday, March 18 will be John Bizzack and Chuck Dunning! From the publicity:

Pennsylvania Academy
of Masonic Knowledge
Masonic Temple
1 North Broad Street, Philadelphia
Saturday, March 18
Registration 8:30 a.m. Program 9:30

W. Bro. John W. Bizzack on “Quandary in the Quarries: Rediscovering the Business of Our Masonic Lodges.”

W. Bro. C.R. “Chuck” Dunning on “Compassion and Gratitude in Masonry, Psychology, and Contemplative Practice.”

Read their biographic summaries here, but if you have read any of these eminent Masons’ books and other writings, you know theirs are voices to be heard.

I don’t see a link for advance registration, but I’m sure that’ll be added soon. And if you can’t be there, I bet the session will be streamed live and viewable on YouTube later as well. This is not to be missed.

Also, be on the lookout for a date in June to be announced for a rededication ceremony at the Temple. I’ll share it here when I know.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

‘Art which affects the passions by sound’

Sorry for the blur. It’s the only image I have.

True Craftsman’s Lodge 651 has a concert planned for April. Guitarist Alessandro Minci is a Mason at labor in Numa Pompilio Lodge 1334 (GOI) in Frosinone, Italy.

A graduate, with honors, of Alfredo Casella Conservatory of Music, Minci is a well known performer, having played in a number of festivals around the world. You can read more about that here.

As you can see on the flier, an “evening of Masonic musical magic” awaits us April 14. This definitely is a lodge activity I support. See you there.

(If you are unsure about recognition, we Americans are in amity with the Grand Orient of Italy. The English have other ideas about il bel paese.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

‘Be an Azim pinball prophet’


Azim is starting the year right. On Friday the 27th, the Prophets will gather at the nearby Barcade for drinks and the Iron Maiden Pinball Tournament.

Be the Azim Arcade Pinball Champion of the World!

Get there at seven o’clock. Wear your fez (duh) and your “Azimian best.”

Barcade is located at 148 West 24th Street (between Sixth and Seventh) in Manhattan.

Saturday, January 7, 2023

‘M&D’s Apprentice up for discussion in the Reading Room’


Masonry should be an energy, finding its aim and effect in the amelioration of mankind. Socrates should enter into Adam and produce Marcus Aurelius; in other words, bring forth from the man of enjoyments the man of wisdom. Masonry should not be a mere watchtower, built upon mystery, from which to gaze at ease upon the world, with no other result than to be a convenience for the curious. To hold the full cup of thought to the thirsty lips of men; to give to all the true ideas of Deity; to harmonize conscience and science, are the province of Philosophy. Morality is Faith in full bloom. Contemplation should lead to action, and the absolute be practical; the ideal be made air, food, and drink to the human mind. Wisdom is a sacred communion. It is only on that condition that it ceases to be a sterile love of Science, and becomes the one and supreme method by which to unite Humanity and arouse it to concerted action. Then Philosophy becomes Religion.

You didn’t get that in your EA Degree, didja?

Those sentences are a snippet of the first chapter, titled “Apprentice,” of Morals and Dogma by Albert Pike. This chapter is the material for the January 31 meeting in the Reading Room, hosted by Craftsmen Online. Click here for the text.

Sponsored by Deputy Grand Master Steven A. Rubin, the Reading Room is a hybrid meeting space with an in-person panel for discussion that the rest of us may join via Zoom. Hosts Bill Edwards and Michael LaRocco will welcome Cliff Jacobs and Walter Cook at seven o’clock to delve into this opening chapter of M&D.

All Master Masons in good standing are welcome to attend. (If you miss it, catch it later on YouTube.) For more information, visit Craftsmen Online here.

Friday, January 6, 2023

‘Freemasonry as a Way of Awakening’


Through the kind offices of Bro. Michael Arce and the team at
Craftsmen Online, my review of Rémi Boyer’s Freemasonry as a Way of Awakening appears in that website’s blog section as of yesterday, and I reprint it here today. Make sure you peruse the entire site. The podcast episodes are essential listening. My thanks to the principals for welcoming my attempted writing.


France’s Rémi Boyer has immersed himself for decades in studying philosophies and initiatory rites, among other things, and has authored a book for understanding Freemasonry. His knowledge and experience lead him to see Masonic initiation as metaphysical, and his prose is patient and instructive, but while Freemasonry as a Way of Awakening presents brilliantly conceived and stated ideas, it may confound Freemasons of the Anglo-American tradition—that is to say, most of us.

The first two paragraphs prime the reader:

“From the outset, let’s state the paradox. Initiation is not thought of, it manifests itself, it is realized, outside of all linearity conducive to thought in which the person de-realizes himself. Initiation is ‘unstoppable’ only in a state of non-thought. Silence is required. The more the literature devotes pages to the subject, the more the so-called initiatory orders multiply and the less they encounter, not only ‘initiates,’ but the ‘initiatables,’ who themselves are rare. Time is confusing while the initiatory ushers in fusion with Being. 
“Initiation is by nature indefinable, elusive as the Spirit. Always, it is an initiation to one’s own original nature or ultimate reality, to the Real, to the Absolute, to the Divine, to what remains, no matter the words, since, precisely ‘there,’ there are no words.”

So, you see, 2B1ASK1 is not a consideration here. Boyer writes of and for the Egyptian Rite.

Likewise, our notions of receiving Light and of “making good men better” are blurry in Boyer’s vision. It’s not that they are contrary or unimportant goals, but this author likens initiation to art. He sees those two as avenues for “controlled madness, madness that allows the overcoming of the limits of the conditioned person.”

Masonic initiation, as Boyer recommends, is comprised of seven stages: the request for initiation; analysis of the request; passage under the blindfold; initiation instruction and orientation to the tradition; the “first” initiation; the initiatory work; and evaluation. As a blindfold conjures a familiar image and key aspect of our own rituals, I’ll skip to No. 3 and explain what Boyer intends. Employing the blindfold is not so much to keep the candidate in a state of darkness until the moment comes to bring him to Light; the blindfold here indicates “a plunge conducted by the candidate into the darkness of self.” It is akin to the alchemical decomposition of raw matter, and the unmasking heralds the start of awakening. “It must leave a slight crack in the continuity of the person” so that initiation will “turn this slight crack into a fissure” and the deeper the fissure, the deeper it descends into the depths of the psyche, and the more it allows the radiance of the light of Being.”

To be sure, there are passages of this book that ring clearly to the Anglo-American Masonic ear. Chapter 8 is titled “Dysfunctions in the Initiatory Process,” and it begins with a description familiar to many of us: “Internal struggles, competitions between organizations, the ‘professionalization’ and ‘commodification’ of initiation are commonplace. They reflect the radical break with traditional rules and principles and the lack of initiatory work by the leaders of these organizations more concerned with their careers than with their awakening.” Still, even these disappointments can be overcome, Boyer explains, by those on a quest who can see beyond the habits of fallible people.

Where our Freemasonry prescribes moral lessons to make a good man better, Boyer shows us a different way down the Masonic path. Actually, there isn’t a single path, as “the initiate is always at the center of an infinity of possible paths.” It’s about psychology, and the context of everything must be respected. The potential candidate for initiation must not be regarded only as someone seeking admittance, but he has to be considered as a person with a psyche shaped by age, social and economic status, family life, any traumatic past experience, and other factors that cause the interviewer “to harmonize himself” with the petitioner. Even the generations and geography are significant (time and space are important understandings in this book), as the author plainly points out how seeking Masonic membership in Paris today is very different from when the city was held by Nazi forces during World War II.

The lengthiest, by far, and possibly most illustrative chapter of the book is devoted to questions that you might have for the author. In fact, they are questions put to Boyer in seminars he conducted in Europe. From “What is the ultimate function of ritual?” to “What is the true nature of the work of a venerable master?” and fifteen others all serve to enlarge finer points from the main body of the text. And then follow nearly fifty pages of appendices that, sometimes, might qualify as Too Much Information!

Freemasonry as a Way of Awakening, published in English for the first time, truly can rouse the Brother Mason of the Preston-Webb-Cross tradition to see how some brethren in Europe tend to their labors. It’s never a question of one way is superior to another. As always with Boyer, context is crucial, as “initiation in a lake village does not rely on the myths that underlie a mountain initiation.”

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

‘The mundane Magpie Mason’

Still in the box with the foam thing!

Well here’s a boring edition of The Magpie Mason: I bought a second-hand lapel pin. Please hold your applause until you’ve read to the bottom.

Having reached the twenty-fifth anniversary of being raised to the Sublime Degree two months ago, I was reminded of the special badges that commemorate such milestones, so I looked around online last week for something appropriate and found several different designs easily enough. Don’t ask me why they’re priced at $18 plus shipping. I know everything costs more today than a year ago, but come on. It’s a lapel pin, generic with the S&C and a 25.

Then I remembered eBay, which I haven’t looked at in years. And there was the handsome item above available for only a few dollars. Described as pre-owned, but never worn, it hails from an estate sale in, if I recall, Brooklyn. Super fast delivery, and here it is.

It differs from what I think is the official design of the Grand Lodge of New York’s anniversary pin, which is silver (as in silver anniversary) and depicts the Grand Lodge seal, encircled in blue enamel, wherein reads GRAND LODGE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, beneath which, inside an irregular pentagon, is the number 25.

A number of grand lodges employ similar compositions. My previous grand lodge calls them Silver Tokens. Which brings me to a conundrum:

I’ve been a Freemason twenty-five years, but I have been a New York Mason only for the past eight years, so I’d bet it’s considered untactful to wear this. I doubt there’s a commandment proscribing it; I would think it’s more like an etiquette point. I’ll wait and see if Aldo notices. Let me also mention that I never see anyone wearing these pins.

I mean I am going to wear it—listen, I ain’t gonna be around for No. 50—so if you see me, my usual Masonic Society badge will be replaced temporarily, through November, with this one.

I can’t believe I just pecked out a couple hundred words about a lapel pin.

Monday, January 2, 2023

‘Chris Murphy coming to Mariners’

Mariners Lodge 67 will host Chris Murphy at its meeting next Wednesday.

Chris is Worshipful Master of Adoniram Lodge 42 in Vermont and is Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge. You may know him from previous speaking engagements (I was fortunate to hear him at Masonic Con six months ago) or from his published work.

Next Wednesday, the 11th, he will present “Enrich Our Hearts: The Esoterica of the Prayer at Opening.”

Mariners tiles at seven o’clock in the Doric Room of Masonic Hall in Manhattan. Apprentices and Fellows are welcome. Lodge attire is black tie or dark suit. Book your seats for the meeting here.

Surely you are aware of the legendary meals Mariners hosts after its meetings, so don’t miss out. Make your reservations here.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

‘Jersey research lodge to meet in the Washington Memorial’

GWMNM photo

Merry New Year! I wish you a 2023 even more positive than your own hopes for it.

Hey, if you will be in or near Alexandria, Virginia on Presidents’ Day and, especially, the day before, please feel free to join us at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. On Sunday, February 19 at 4:30, New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education 1786 will hold an Emergent Communication in one of the lodge rooms.

The room is booked and Bro. Shawn Eyer will be our speaker, discussing William Preston (I’ll have the specifics on the topic soon).

I’m inviting the brethren of A. Douglas Smith, Jr. Lodge of Research 1949, who meet in the Memorial regularly, and George Washington Lodge of Research 1732, from not far Fredericksburg, and other researchers to enjoy the time with us. You should come too!

The next day, President’s Day, the Memorial will host the centenary celebration of its cornerstone laying ceremony. And the City of Alexandria will hold its George Washington Birthday Parade earlier that afternoon; NJLORE is signed up for that as well, so march with us. It’s a public parade with, I expect, many Masonic groups in formation. It’ll be like it’s 1780 again or something.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

‘Scottish Freemasonry Symposium, Part III’

One of many slides, packed with dazzling facts, on the screen.

I’ll wrap up an enjoyable year with this overdue post on the George Washington Masonic National Memorial’s Scottish Freemasonry in America Symposium (the title seems to vary here and there, so I’m going with what’s on the front cover of the program) eight weeks ago. An enjoyable year mostly because of the more-than-the-usual travel, compensating, I guess, for the period of pandemic lockdown. There was Masonic Week in Virginia in February; Royal Arch Grand Chapter in Utica in March; the Railroad Degree in Delaware in April; Masonic Con in New Hampshire in June; and back to Virginia for this conference on November 5—which happened to have been the twenty-fifth anniversary of my Master Mason Degree. That whole weekend was the perfect way to celebrate the milestone.

This actually is the third in a series of Magpie posts about the events, and there are sidebars also, if you care to scroll through the posts from November. Pardon the poor quality of the photographs. So, here we go.

At the Washington Memorial, introductions, welcomes, and remarks were tendered by Executive Director George Seghers, President Claire Tusch, and Director of Archives and Events Mark Tabbert. The roster of presenters was a balance of Masonic and non-Masonic speakers who gave explanations of how Scots impacted British North America by emigrating to the colonies and bringing their Freemasonry with them. I think it is a neglected subject thanks to our anglocentric understanding of early American history. We think of things “Anglo-American” at the exclusion of the Scottish people, philosophies, religion, and more that also came to the American colonies.

Professor Ned Landsman
Professor Emeritus Ned Landsman, of SUNY-Stony Brook, discussed “Mobility and Stability in Scottish Society and Culture in the Eighteenth Century.” The Scottish influx into North America was not as large as England’s, he explained, mostly because the Scots were as likely to emigrate to Ireland and other destinations, and many who did cross the Atlantic were apt to return home after earning some money. But shifting economic and political fortunes in Scotland prompted enough to make the journey to find work, to trade, and to secure greater freedom. In the eighteenth century, it was Highlanders mostly, representing a “broad segment of intellectual life” (including a number of medical doctors) who established in America societies for sociable, charitable, and convivial pursuits.

Professor Hans Schwartz
Professor Hans Schwartz of Northeastern University in Boston presented “Migration and Scots Freemasonry in America, from the Stamp Act to the Revolution.” Schwartz is a Freemason and, more importantly, he is the liveliest and funniest lecturer I possibly have ever seen. I don’t know his availability to travel to lodges, but if you can book him, you’ll be a hero in your lodge. He explained how Scots lodges in British America were fewer than English lodges, but the Scots were influential beyond their numbers. George Washington’s lodge, Fredericksburg, was a Scottish lodge, as were others in Virginia, such as Port Royal and Blandford. The rolls of their memberships in the 1700s and beyond are filled with Scottish names. In Boston, Lodge of St. Andrew, which met in the Green Dragon Tavern, was the first lodge in British North America chartered by the Grand Lodge of Scotland. In only Fredericksburg and St. Andrew, you have George Washington, Hugh Mercer, Paul Revere, Joseph Warren, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and a host of lesser known revolutionary patriots and local heroes. And there were Scottish lodges on the length of the Atlantic seaboard, even down into the Caribbean.

Bro. Bob Cooper
Bob Cooper was next, but sadly his talk was cut short. We learned later that he was in pain (his bad knee) and had to get off his feet. From what I can recollect about his talk from eight Saturdays ago, he spoke of the importance of there being a Grand Lodge of Scotland after the union of Scottish and English parliaments as Great Britain in 1707, and that the Grand Lodge served as something of an extension of Scottish nationhood, particularly when it issued warrants to lodges in America.

Next up was Jim Ambuske from the Center for Digital History, Washington’s Library, at Mount Vernon, who brought to light an aspect of American Revolution history unknown to most. He explained the War of Independence as a civil war among Scots living in America. Citing a family named McCall as an example, Ambuske explained how Archibald McCall settled in Virginia in the 1750s and became a successful merchant and farmer. Politically, he sometimes sided with Washington and Jefferson, but he also supported the Stamp Act. When the war started, he placed himself on the side of the Loyalists, and so the rebels deemed him a traitor and eventually seized his properties. McCall appears to have been a supporter of Lord Dunmore who, of Scottish heritage, was colonial governor of Virginia and a very active agent of British policy. (When Patrick Henry said “Give me liberty or give me death,” he was speaking at Dunmore.) This was bad enough, but it also put him in the uniquely shameful position of asking the Crown for financial relief due to the loss of his wealth and income. As I understand it, he spent the rest of his life trying to square away these financial disasters, but, in death, he was able to bequeath his daughter two plantations.

Bro. Gordon Michie
The fifth speaker was Gordon Michie, another Mason, who spelled out the migration of Freemasonry to the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. I scribbled some notes, but most of what he told us is well known Masonic history so I won’t transcribe it here. I think the important historical information from Michie’s talk comes from Scottish Masonic Records, 1736-1950 by George Draffen, if you can lay hands on it.

And that was it for Saturday. There was a black tie banquet with a whisky tasting later, but I skipped it, preferring to get downtown for a meal and to duck into John Crouch Tobacconist, Alexandria’s oldest cigar and pipe shop, established 1967. I haven’t been there in ages, and somehow it looks like a smaller shop now that all the floor space is cleared of the Scottish souvenirs and tchotchkes. I bought some pipe tobacco: two ounces of Virginia Currency and, keeping with the Scottish theme, two ounces of Hebrides, a Latakia-heavy mixture that I’m smoking right now.

The conference resumed Sunday morning with Heather Calloway, Executive Director of Indiana University’s Center for Fraternal Collections and Research, who spoke on “Aye, Right Beyond the Haggis Dinners, Old Nessie, and Yonder in America.”

Dr. Heather Calloway
Speaking from not only a Masonic perspective, but from a broader American fraternalism outlook, she told of how Scottish culture was filtered into America through certain fraternal orders, like the Benevolent Order of Scottish Clans, the Daughters of Scotia, and others. (Back in the day, there were more than 300 fraternal societies in this country, with aggregate membership of about 6 million, she said.) Heather shared a few anecdotes, including one of a visit to Federal Lodge 1 in the District of Columbia, which invited her to look at some “cool old stuff.” The lodge didn’t know it had one particular item they found in a closet: the Bible used at George Washington’s funeral.

Bro. Ewan Rutherford
And the final presentation brought to the lectern Ewan Rutherford, Deputy Grand Master of the Royal Order of Scotland, who gave a Scottish history of Freemasonry. Beginning in 1475, with the incorporation of masons in Edinburgh, and continuing through more familiar facts about William Schaw, the Mary’s Chapel minute book, and to the Royal Order of Scotland, Rutherford brought the affair to a tidy conclusion, making clear how Scotland has been central to the identity of Freemasonry.

It was a great event that Claire Tusch, the Memorial Association’s President, said he hoped could be the first of more such conferences. And I agree! (Easy for me to say. I don’t have to do any of the work.) But I’ll be back in Alexandria in February for the Memorial’s centennial anniversary celebration. More on that later.

I’m sorry for the lack of content and detail on the presentations, and, as always, any errors or omissions are attributable to me.

Happy New Year!